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Entertainment News

Monday, 17 December, 2007 11:48 PM

Blu-Ray and HD DVD: Your Guide To the Holiday Shopping Frenzy!

By Steve Anderson
thevideostoreguy@columnist.com

I know you're probably stalking the shelves of Best Buy looking for that special gift for the technophile in your life, and wondering just what to go with. Perhaps you've even forayed into that great first major tech battle of the twenty first century that doesn't involve a game system:

Blu-Ray....or HD DVD?

Which is a tough question to answer. There's actually quite a lot riding on this, with players going into several hundred dollars apiece and the various studios factioning around their preferred format, it's going to be really easy to get the wrong player. So, let's take a quick look at the pluses and minuses.

Versatility

Anime buffs take note--if you like foreign films of any stripe then the HD DVD is your weapon of choice. HD DVDs do not at last count have region coding, which means if you buy your anime straight from Japan you can slap it in the HD DVD player and play immediately. Blu-Ray discs have the option to come without region coding, but most have it. Though interestingly, Japan is in Region One, the same as the United States, so Blu-Ray becomes a problem for European and Indian films, but not for Japanese.

Range of Use

Okay, the long and the short of it is, in terms of number of titles, Blu-Ray has a LOT more titles available than HD DVD. Blu-Ray has something like three million total, while HD DVD is just short of two. Strangely, corporate support is split almost evenly and wildly varied--Blockbuster, for example, reports heavy Blu-Ray rentals whilst Netflix users are staunch HD DVD supporters.

Technical Issues

HD DVD will, eventually, be able to support larger movies and thus more bonus content with its triple-layer maximum format, but no movies have actually been released under this format. There are other differences between the two in terms of video playback and audio compression, but the differences actually manage--from what I can tell--to cancel each other out to such a degree that there is no clear technical winner in the Blu-Ray / HD DVD comparison.

The Final Verdict

*ahem*

Seriously. There's absolutely no reason to play early adopter on this one. Both Blu-Ray and HD DVD together can't even begin to compare to the number of regular DVDs sold in the United States this year. Both of them together equal a meager two and a half percent of regular DVD sales in just the first half of 2007. The biggest problem here is that the whole issue is still in a shakedown modality and trying to figure out who will have the dominant format. This is VHS / Beta all over again, and do you really want to pay ludicrous prices to have the newest Betamax on your entertainment center shelves? No, of course you don't! It's ridiculous!

So if you want the final verdict from your friendly neighborhood Video Store Guy, go buy an HDTV instead, and let the Blu-Ray / HD DVD War settle its own hash before you go buying one or the other.

 

 

 

 

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